The Dubrovnik Republic had already ceased slave trade by 1416. This decision made it one of the first states in the world to discontinue the inhumane practice. But the decree didn’t put a final stop to slavery and it would remain present in a less severe form for almost another century. In the meantime, and before it disappeared completely, individual slaves received a document of liberation, the so-called Charta Libertatis. By this document, they were recognized as free people, even though they still had certain obligations to their former master.
The novel The Third Key talks about the existence of another Charta libertatis and reveals a form of slavery that remains to the present day.
While in the historical part of the plot the characters witness the most tragic event in the history of the Dubrovnik Republic – the Great Earthquake of 1667 – the contemporary part of the novel recounts a story of two young people who, during their brief summer romance, discover a forgotten document and in an interesting and exciting way bring both parts of the book into a unique whole.
But before we peek into the contents of the true Charta libertatis and discover the secret of the third key, the story takes us to an old caravan road in the early morning od April 6, 1677.